cross posted at mLaw
The recent Senate hearings about President Obama’s declared authority to execute Americans with no trial, charges, lawyer, ability to question witnesses, ability to be informed of evidence (otherwise known as ‘due process’) where Attorney General Eric Holder was questioned were revealing as the Justice Department winds down its ‘review’ of the ballot initiatives in CO and WA that legalized cannabis for recreational use by adults.
The style of legal pettifoggery deployed by Holder throughout the entire drone-American-style debate that ended in spectacular fashion when libertarian senator Rand Paul and a group of brave but clearly marginalized senators filibustered against the a-constitutional notion that a president can assassinate Americans in the US (or anywhere) with no judge, jury or charges is what anyone paying attention over the past four years would expect.
When Holder’s reasoning was not specious it was circular. Most frighteningly Holder’s entire defense of the program took as a predicate that America is in lock-down mode because it is in a permanent war state where citizen’s rights are, you know, necessarily suspended for the duration. Though slimy and lowbrow, the message was clear - Eric Holder advises the President with supreme, one may even say god-like confidence that the US President has a legal right to blow the pancakes out of you and me at any moment, for safety reasons. We have previously seen Holder arguing in this style. An example that can’t go unmentioned was his comments last March in Chicago where he asserted that due process was not judicial process; see v2 at the demise for a take on that statement that is informed by recent history.
This wacky word-play as constitutional analysis has been seen throughout what little the Obama administration has revealed of it’s legal justifications for abrogating provisions of the US Constitution. The DOJ’s neo-Orwellian re-defining of the word imminance in it’s leaked drone white paper is an example. When both Holder and his former chief of criminal prosecutions Lanny Breuer argued many times that banking criminals deserve to be treated differently than you and me under the law and when the DOJ judged Aaron Schwartz’s actions as terrorism, Holder is helping his boss justify any action, inaction or Constitutional infraction so the president can do as he pleases.
And I have to point out, for chain-of-command challenged Democrats, progressives and other critics of George W. Bush who are weirdly mum on our current commander in chief: Holder is an employee of Barack Obama, not some sort of free wheeling individualist forming policy in Washington DC.
As Americans look toward the Obama administration’s forthcoming legal analysis of the people supported, ‘small D democratic’, ‘We the People’ rejection of law enforcement’s and private capital’s bigoted and destructive ‘drug war’ in the popular rejection of the prohibition of cannabis, we should remember that in the current Obama government, as in previous administrations over the past 50 years both Democratic and Republican, what comes first in America is the political and the commercial, not the will of the people.
While this Democratic administration’s efforts to normalize the anti-democratic and anti-free society pronouncements and actions of the previous Republican power holders are most troublesome and far reaching when they normalize extrajudicial extermination, torture and total surveillance, we have seen its pandering to private business owners almost as much as its pandering to the unaccountable national security state. Whether it is easing environmental standards for oil exploration and environmental degradation or deeming banking felons to be above the law and granting these private parties trillions of tax payer dollars to prop up their ‘businesses’, commerce always comes before the will of the people in Obama’s world. And the legalization of cannabis for either medical or recreational use is fundamentally violative of that which Barack Obama has decided in his life to protect at all costs. It is not the moral (medical marijuana), or the logical (the harms associated with cannabis juxtaposed against those of legal tobacco and alcohol), nor the fair (with hundreds of thousands of otherwise productive Americans languishing in jail) – but rather it is where ‘commerce’ and ’public safety’ intersect as politics, what used to be known as fascism.
So now we are being softened up by former DOJ drug warriors who are bought off by industrialists and are being chicken-littled by international ‘enforcement’ entities about the defilement of ‘treaties’ that were written within the thinly veiled racist and population subordinating constructs of cannabis prohibitionism, being primed for the preordained proclamation of Obama’s DOJ: that the will of the people must be bridled for the sake of ‘international obligations’. The pettifogger Holder, on this one, will seek refuge for his justifying Obama’s predetermination by squealing his solemn ’adherance to international law’.
Consider if you will: Palestine, Kyoto, torture and rendition, black-site prisons, imperial wars, the threat of death from the skies…sacroscant treaties indeed. It is you and me, friends, who are being ‘convinced’ by this high school level rhetoric and disingenuous gum-flappery, and it is us who will pay the price for our inaction in the face of this neo-fascist policy framing. As Sinclair Lewis noted, self-deluded Americans are fond of incanting, “It can’t happen here”.
It ain’t hard to figure what Obama is going to do regarding acknowledging the will of the people, honest and thoughtful American adults, with respect to legalizing the use of cannabis. All one has to do is simply consider the compassionate, the rational, the just, the intelligent, the safe, the science supported, the popularly supported, the equality uplifting, the violence stemming, the patient saving, the public coffer enriching, the just plain right and correct alternative…and Obama will do the mirror opposite.
Its not about the suffering of the afflicted, its not about the wasted future of those unfairly prosecuted, its not about the will of the people, its not about free market capitalism, its not about saving public works and the social safety net, its about one thing – the reason America exists in the mind of our current corporate sycophant and careerist narcissist: its all about the burnished legacy of an amoral former user.
Hail to the chief.